Speak Up wants politics left out of plan fix

By Country News

Any royal commission into the Murray-Darling Basin Plan must be a genuine effort to solve problems, not another game of political point-scoring, and examine the Water Act itself, according to Speak Up.

Speak Up spokesperson Linda Fawns said successive governments had played ‘‘political football’’ with communities and livelihoods.

‘‘No major party is immune from this,’’ she said.

‘‘If we are to have a royal commission it must be all-encompassing, not a selective political attempt to score more points over the other side, as we have seen far too often.’’

She said Speak Up wanted governments to work collaboratively with local communities to address anomalies in the basin plan including conveyance losses caused by trying to send too much through the system.

And if a royal commission was called it must also include South Australia’s involvement in the basin plan, investigating issues like the south-east drains, and why the Coorong and Lower Lakes were not part of the basin plan would need to be examined.

‘‘We already have numerous reports and findings on the failings of the basin plan, so whether a royal commission is needed must surely be questioned. If one is called, it must look at the entire plan,’’ she said.

However, priorities must be given to reviewing existing reports and addressing issues including bringing South Australia into the basin plan as part of the solution to existing flaws, according to Mrs Fawns.

She believes it must also be accepted that: the volumes of water being delivered by the southern basin are ‘‘unrealistic’’ and causing environmental degradation; the southern and northern basin are separate systems and removing water from the south will not deliver water to the Darling; and 21st century technology for metering, measuring and compliance of flood plain harvesting in the northern basin should be used.

‘‘A royal commission has the potential to further highlight issues with the basin plan, however they have already been raised in numerous reports but are waiting on government action,’’ Mrs Fawns said.